Bones of Ice Age child found in Alaska
Feb 25, 2011, 8:55 GMT
Washington - Archaeologists in Alaska have found the remains of a young child from the Ice Age, in a discovery of the oldest human bones yet uncovered from sub-Arctic North America.
The finding by a team from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, which was to be published in the Friday edition of the journal Science, reveals new details about the behaviour of people at the time, including facts about the construction of wooden summer homes and burial rites.
Ben Potter and his colleagues said the site on which a child aged about three was cremated and buried is around 11,500 years old. At the time, Asia and North America were still connected by a land bridge across the Bering Straits.
The grave in which the remains of the child were found was inside a wooden house that was apparently only used in summer. Experts think it gave protection to women and children during the time they spent gathering berries and catching fish, birds and small mammals. At that time, men would go hunting and pitched their tents in different places.
Scientists concluded from the finding that following the death and cremation of the young child, the women filled the grave with earth and never returned to the house.
It remained unclear whether the remains belonged to a girl or a boy, while Potter and his colleagues could also not determine the cause of the early death.
They hoped, however, to be able to obtain from the few surviving bones enough DNA to gather genetic data for the child, in order to be able to compare them to modern-day residents of the area.
When researchers discovered the grave and the remains of the child they were at the site, now known as Upward Sun River, looking for evidence of even older activity.
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